MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010

6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL

PRESENT:      Board Members - Green, Higgins, Lichtenwald, Pnacek and Steele

ABSENT:       Board Members

OTHERS PRESENT:       Cindy Winland, Consulting Planner, Debbie Marquardt, Technical Secretary and 4 others.

 

2.   ELECTION OF OFFICERS

 

It was moved by Higgins, seconded by Steele, to elect Roy Green as Chairman.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

It was moved by Lichtenwald, seconded by Higgins, to elect Jon Steele as Vice Chairman.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

3.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Lichtenwald to approve the minutes of the May 18, 2010 meeting.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

4.   PUBLIC HEARINGS

The Chairman explained the public hearing procedures and how the Board decides if the variance request is approved based on the five Zoning Ordinance criteria.  Mr. Green reinforced that the variance goes with the property and not with the property owner.

 

a.      No. 10-03 – Midland Plaza Center, for a dimensional variance to permit relocation of an existing ATM machine.  The applicant is asking for a variance of 7’ to the required 25’ setback from a street side yard.  The property is located at 1900 S. Saginaw Road.

 

Background:  Cindy Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property. 

The zoning is Regional Commercial.  This is a request to relocate an ATM machine.  They would like to move the ATM closer to the edge of the parking lot in order to alleviate the congestion in the parking lot.

 

Criteria for granting a variance: 

 

(1)   Will strict compliance with restrictions governing area, setback, frontage, height, bulk, density or other non-use matters unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permitted purpose?    

 

Under strict compliance regarding setback restrictions, the current ATM machine location had to be placed within the island parking, creating a more burdensome traffic flow and difficulty for ATM customers to navigate through the ATM drive.  The property is able to be used for retail. 

 

(2)   The variance will do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners. 

 

The variance should help with better traffic flow through the parking lot.  This petition is a request to fix a problem created by poor location and traffic flow. 

 

(3)   The variance requested is the minimum variance to provide substantial relief to the applicant and/or be consistent with justice to other property owners. 

 

This would allow the ATM to be recessed and drivers could go through at a straight shot and would be less likely to hit the ATM and maneuver through the parking lot.

 

(4)   The need for the variance is due to the unique characteristics of the property not generally applicable in the area or to other properties in the same zoning district. 

 

People who use the ATM are not necessarily shoppers so moving the ATM closer to the front property line allows for better and closer parking for the shoppers.  There is nothing unique about the property but it is unique that the ATM is a principle use and therefore should meet the setback. 

 

(5)   The problem and resulting need for the variance has been created by strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and not the applicant. 

 

By complying with the Zoning Ordinance they had to follow the set backs and be located within the island parking.  It is in the traffic flow and it makes more sense to move it to the edge of the parking lot.

 

Mr. Steele asked if there are any rules regarding the distance the ATM must be from an entrance.  For a structure, there are no setback requirements. 

 

Mr. Green asked if there is anything required to protect the machine from Patrick Road.  There are no requirements.

 

Christine Rapanos, Manager of Midland Plaza Center, 1400 Avalon Street is the petitioner and spoke. Their client has had problems with people hitting the ATM because it is on an angle and they have had numerous requests to repair cars and other things.  This request would keep the traffic moving in a straight line through the parking lot and remove the ATM from the people using the parking lot to shop. 

 

Mr. Higgins asked if the existing tree will remain.  Rapanos answered that they are planning on removing it for safety reasons and for the people working on the ATM.  Part of the tree is in the way of the ATM and some of the electrical would be going through the roots. 

 

Mr. Higgins asked about screening.  They did look at putting foliage there.  Patrick Road is a one way and they aren’t too concerned about foliage blocking the view.

 

Mr. Lichtenwald asked what the distance is from the angle parking to the ATM.  They  chose angle parking on the aisle facing the ATM for safety for the pedestrians and to cut back on fender benders.  Mr. Pnacek asked if the drive would be one way.  Rapanos answered that the drive will be one way to encourage all traffic to move in the same direction and because there isn’t enough room for two way.  Ms. Rapanos is planning on eliminating some of the parking spots in front of the ATM.   

 

Mr. Steele asked if they have done studies to see how many cars use that ATM.  The ordinance requires that there is room for four cars to stack.  The more space they have for stacking,  the more business they can do.

 

Danielle Merillat, ATM Specialist for Dow Chemical Credit Union, 146 N 5 Mile Road, Midland.  She is in favor of the variance.  They have had numerous claims of car damage.  There are scrapes and dents on the ATM when they do their cleaning.  When they are servicing the ATM, they constantly see cars backing up and trying to pull up to the ATM to avoid getting out of their car to make their transaction.

 

Mr. Steele stated that when they pull up they have a problem getting closer because of the curve in the placement of the ATM.   Mr. Lichtenwald asked if the problem is the curve and not the location.  He believes that drivers cannot access the ATM from straight on because of the parking in front of it.  Rapanos replied that if they straighten the location of the ATM where it is currently, they will lose parking there.  This is not desirable because these parking places are closer to the store fronts. 

 

Christopher Estes, Vice President of the Dow Chemical Credit Union, 3233 Douglas Drive, Sanford.  The Dow Chemical Credit Union has been in partnership with the owners where they lease the property.  They also contract with an auto detailer to keep the machines nicely maintained.

 

Mr. Green asked about the volume at this ATM and the damage to it compared to other ATMs.  This machine is one of the top three in numbers of transactions and number one in property damage.   

 

No one spoke in opposition to this variance request.

 

            Questions from Board:

 

      The Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the ZBA to enter into findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

1.                  It is in a Regional Commercial zoning district.

2.                  The side road in question is East Patrick Road.

3.                  The ATM is located in the middle of an existing parking lot and it is difficult for the cars to line up and go through the ATM.

4.                  The signage currently in the parking lot is adequate to get to the ATM.

5.                  There was no correspondence.

6.                  There have been complaints by both the Dow Chemical Credit Union and patrons for damage to both the machine and cars.

7.                  Two people spoke in favor of the variance. They are employees of the Dow Chemical Credit Union.

8.                  The machine will be located 33 feet from the road where they are proposing to put it but less than 25 feet from the property line.

9.                  The current machine was installed in 2001.

10.              The proposed location will be parallel to Patrick Road and not at an angle as the existing machine is.

 

      It was moved by Higgins and supported by Green to approve Petition No. 10-03 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 1900 South Saginaw Road, for a variance of 7’ to the required 25’ setback from a street side yard, provided that the access drive to the ATM is one way, a minimum of three parking spaces west of the ATM is closed off permanently, angle parking is provided opposite the ATM and a sign be provided at the exit of the ATM warning drivers, and that the driveway between the stacking and parking is adequate to meet the city requirements. 

 

            Mr. Higgins agrees with all of Cindy’s comments.  Mr. Steel is fine with the petition.  Mr. Pnacek is fine with it.  Mr. Lichtenwald disagrees and he thinks this proposed location is going to cause more problems with the traffic in the parking lot.  He believes the first criterion is not met.  The second criterion is met.  He agrees that this is the minimum request.  There are not any unique circumstances in this petition and he feels it is self created.  With better planning and straightening out the placement of the ATM and the addition of angle parking, he feels the machine can stay where it is.

 

            Mr. Green stated that in reviewing the criteria they have to follow, he feels there are alternatives and it is a safety issue but there are other problems they may create. 

 

            Voting on the motion.

            Green:  No

            Higgins:  Yes

            Lichtenwald:  No

            Pnacek:  Yes

            Steele:  Yes

            The motion to approve Petition 10-03 was approved by a vote of 3-2.

 

      Mr. Higgins thinks the Planning Commission should look at ATMs and address the issue and decide if it is a principle use and if there are special considerations involved.  The city needs to address where they should be, how far they should be from the set back and parking. 

 

5.   PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)

            None

 

6.   OLD BUSINESS

      None   

 

7.   NEW BUSINESS

            None

 

8.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

  1. 10-01 review Findings of Fact
  2. 10-02 review Findings of Fact
  3. 09-10 recorded

 

9.   ADJOURNMENT

      Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia E. Winland, AICP

Contractual Planner